Chapter 1: Welcome to Tromaville
Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 1 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and the Introduction to the book. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass
Chapter 1: Welcome to Tromaville
New York, just like I pictured it. Actually, it was New York, just as I always knew it, having grown up in Forest Hills, Queens, and acclimated at a young age to the Q60 bus to Manhattan and the E, F, G, N, and RR subway lines into “the City.” Tromaville, on the other hand, was less familiar.
I was working for a relatively unknown TV-and-film-distribution company, Satori Entertainment, my first job out of college, when I first heard about “the Troma Guys.” Satori, an interesting story in and of itself, was run by the late Ernie Sauer, in many ways a TV pioneer and visionary, who, among other things, started the first satellite-distributed radio service long before the likes of Sirius and XM Radio were a twinkle in their founders’ eyes.
During my tenure at Satori, in the early ’80s, the company achieved some notoriety as a leading importer of “English-language foreign films”— in other words, films from Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain. We would obtain the North American rights to these films and license them to the burgeoning pay-TV market, including the early days of HBO and Showtime, and a small network of over-the-air STV (Subscription Television) services that were cropping up in a handful of markets around the country—all precursors to the cable-TV and home-video explosions that were on the cusp of arriving. We had a few early successes, like Dot and the Kangaroo, an Australian live-action and animated children’s film, and Bruce Beresford’s Don’s Party as well as the early Mel Gibson film Tim, with Mel and Piper Laurie. In a few cases, we dabbled in releasing some of our imports in theaters, and for a while, we played host to an Australian Film Festival at the old D. W. Griffith Theater on East Fifty-Ninth Street.
Then the home-video revolution arrived, and our growing catalog of films found new value on VHS. Dot and the Kangaroo was licensed to Andre Blay’s Magnetic Home Video, which eventually became Fox Home Video, and a new, lucrative market emerged. Along the way, we went public, and after Satori’s IPO, we realized that it made sense to acquire more films and grow our library as our distribution channels into the developing pay- TV and home-video markets continued to expand and thrive. It was with such acquisitions in mind that I decided to call on “the Troma Guys,” who, after all, were situated in “the Troma Building,” a mere seven blocks north on Ninth Avenue from Satori headquarters, adjacent to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
I had heard of Troma and the story of Lloyd and Michael’s little film fiefdom. I may even have seen a Troma film or two. But mostly I was aware they had built a nice-sized library of low-budget films they had produced themselves or acquired from others: films I presumed would potentially have value in the growing pay-TV and syndicated-TV marketplace we were supplying. I gave them a call and was invited to come visit them.
That’s Chapter 1 – short and sweet. Stay tuned for “Chapter 2: The Troma Building” and my first journey into the heart of “Hell’s Kitchen.”
The book in previous posts:
Foreword, by Lloyd Kaufman
Introduction: Lights, Camera, Action!